Low Vitamin D Levels May Raise Heart Risk
Study Shows Vitamin D Supplements May Be Useful in Preventing Heart Disease
How to Get Enough Vitamin D continued...
Michos recommends that men and women boost their vitamin D levels by eating diets rich in fatty fish, such as cod, sardines, and mackerel. She also suggests consuming fortified dairy products, taking vitamin supplements, and briefly exposing skin to the sun's vitamin-D-producing ultraviolet light.
AHA spokeswoman Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, a nutritionist at Tufts University, says the new studies add to growing evidence suggesting a link between vitamin D insufficiency and cardiovascular disease.
But until well-designed studies show that vitamin D can improve heart health, people should refrain from taking mega-supplements on their own, she says.
"People sometimes think if a little is good, a lot is better. But that's not always true. Too much vitamin D can build up and be toxic to organs like the kidney," Lichtenstein says.
Low Levels of Vitamin D Linked to Stroke
Also at the meeting, Utah researchers reported that low levels of vitamin D may raise the risk of stroke, heart disease, and death.
The researchers followed 27,686 people, ages 50 and older, with no history of cardiovascular disease. The participants were divided into three groups based on their vitamin D levels: normal (more than 30 nanograms per milliliter), low (15 to 30 nanograms per milliliter), or very low (less than 15 nanograms per milliliter).
After one year, those with very low levels of vitamin D were 77% more likely to die, 45% more likely to develop heart disease, and 78% more likely to have a stroke, compared with people with normal vitamin D levels.
"We concluded that among patients 50 years of age or older, even a moderate deficiency of vitamin D levels was associated with developing coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke and death," says researcher Heidi May, PhD, an epidemiologist with the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah.